The Future - Full Metal 3D Printed Yo-Yo


So I’m not really active on the forums (since the YYN days) and don’t get to many meets or contests any more, but I still throw every once in a while and I believe that I just made the first ever fully metal 3D printed yo-yo, so I wanted to show you guys.

It definitely plays like a prototype but I’m actually surprised that it plays as well as it does. With axle tuning it only vibes very little. This could be attributed to a couple things. The material properties and the fact that the bearing post was slightly too big to seat the bearing so I had to file the diameter down by hand a little bit, which may have resulted in a slightly off-center seating. Vibe aside, it definitely needs some better weight distribution, as well as bevelled cut-out edges since the holes cause a good amount of drag. Both of these result in reduced spin time.

I made this mainly as a proof of concept, to see if something like this was even possible or worth while. I’m optimistic considering the results, though I think I got a bit lucky with this print. This printing process (video here) consists of a step in which the glue that holds the steel powder in the shape of the object is vaporized and replaced with molten bronze. This results in shrinkage of the piece which could be inconsistent from run to run, making designing parts which fit together very risky. After I designed the yo-yo I scaled the print up by 3% to try to compensate for the shrinkage. It just happened that the hex nut fit it’s hole perfectly, however I’ve done other non-yo-yo prints in this material and 3% was not the magic number. Perhaps a different axle/hub design could offer more wiggle room here.

In the end, this print ended up costing roughly $73, plus the hex nuts, set screw, bearing and shipping for everything added maybe another $20. I might try for version 2 sometime soon here, though I have some other projects going on as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m not going to make my 3D files public, but I’m happy to help anyone else who wants to give this a try for themselves.


sweet. how are the spin times?


Pretty lousy, for reasons I stated above.

I’ll time some throws when I get home from work.


That’s pretty awesome. I’m impressed it’s even possible. Cool project!!


Saw this on the subreddit. Seems pretty freakin awesome. Keep it up. Hopefully you’ll get all the fine tuning done and you’ll have yourself a great yoyo.

(Owen) #6

This is a great idea!


thats fresh man, and really heavy, but i guess it wuld have to be to gain speed during some tricks.i would think that much air flowing through the object would be alil odd, especiially to a D bearing. its a Breathe gone krazee and i like it :thumbs up: ;D


Thanks guys.

It doesn’t really feel much heavier than my other throws, which I think are in the mid to high 60s. 73 isn’t much more, though I would like to try to take that down a bit more. The air going through it doesn’t really feel odd unless your hand is right next to it. It also makes a whoosh sound when it’s spinning. If you’re going to make a yo-yo out of steel, it’s gonna have to have holes in it, otherwise it will either be really heavy or you’ll have to make it CU or Saint Eel sized. The Breathe’s holes are for show. These ones are necessary.


The bird’s nest yo-yo I did in 09 was originally intended to be done in steel… the problem was at the time the tech was still insanely expensive and would have run me in the $1k range to finish… so I went with a plastic body instead and used metal hardware to beef it up. ( if you haven’t seen it)

In the time since I’ve done quite a few metal prints, but never got back around to doing a yoyo in metal again… though I’ve done hundreds in plastics.

Cool work



Awesome! You’d definitely have me a customer.


The spin time didn’t look too bad based off the trick demo you did. I would love to see the time lapse vid of this thing being made on the printer.


It looks like you are doing some really great work. I wish you much success.


That’s really cool, but I thought 3D printing metal was just printing plastic, making a mold, and injecting.

Why not use 3D printing’s greatest advantage over machining; Hollow parts? Like make a hollow hub to decrease center weight

(Former National 4A Champion) #14

That’s exactly what the holes in the body are for(also for cool looks).
Hub are to small to make hollow I think

(Owen) #15

Yeah I was kinda wondering what advantages a metal 3D printed yoyo has over a machined one.


I do remember seeing that Kyle. I think it looks pretty wicked. I originally planned to do a more organic leaf type structure rather than a hex grid, but I reasoned that because of the inconsistency of the pattern that it would throw off the balance. I figured you’d appreciate my project. I remember when I was talking to Randy Jensen about this he showed me your website for designing a custom printed plastic yo-yo.

I forgot to time some throws when I was at home. I wish I could show you a time lapse, but I don’t actually print this myself. I just order from Shapeways, which is basically a company that has a few printers of their own, but also has outsourced contracts with various other print facilities, some outside of the US. I just give them my 3D file and they have it printed and ship it back to me. It’s about a 2 week turn-around.

Some metals are printed this way. They use a wax printer, then use a process called “lost wax casting” to replace the wax with metal. This is often done with more precious metals like gold and silver which have a lower melting point. I posted a link to a video of the process used for the type of steel printing used in my yo-yo in my first post.

As far as hollow parts go, there’s really no room to do this. The issue being that due to printer & process limitations you cannot have any surfaces of the print which are less than 1mm thick (within reason). The profile of this yo-yo is already around 1mm thick in places, so I wouldn’t be able to make it hollow without just adding more weight. It’s not beneficial. I might be able to mess around with the hub to reduce thickness in parts. Maybe in version 2.

Here is the materials section on the shapeways website which details more information about how the material can be used.

The yo-yo it’s self doesn’t have any advantages (machined yo-yos actually perform better as of now). The advantages are in the design & production process. The main advantages from my view is the ability to design something and make 1 copy for a reasonable price. To get a machined yo-yos price down you have to order in bulk. Also there are fewer design restrictions. With a CNC lathe there are things you can’t do because of restrictions in tooling capabilities. Also with 3D printing, adding more detail doesn’t raise the cost. You could potentially make my yo-yo using traditional means, but it would take a really long time and be much more labor intensive than a normal yo-yo. It takes the same amount of time & labor to print a solid profiled yo-yo as it does one with all kinds of cut out details.

Thanks again for the complements guys. If you’re interested, here’s a gallery with other stuff that I’ve designed and printed.


But, if the hub was hollow, you could make the hub bigger. and it wouldn’t matter cause it would be holow.


I don’t think you guys are grasping how thin 1mm is.

To make a structure ‘hollow’ you have to make 2 walls, inner and outer… if the min. wall thickness is 1mm (or even .51mm) you end up adding -more- weight doing it that way vs. just having a single thin piece to begin with.

If you had a much thicker piece (say 3 or 4mm) then doing a hollow structure starts to make more sense… but with ultra thin parts, you aren’t going to lose weight by making them bigger and then hollowing it out.



Right Kyle. As it is, the walls in the hub are already so thin that I cannot make them hollow. If I were to actually include a hollow element, I would have to add more material than what is already there in order to conform to the 1mm wall limit. For reference, a dime is 1.35mm thick.

Here is the profile (with hex nut). The grid is 1mm squares. Nothing here can be hollowed. All I can really do is make certain areas thinner.


Check out Fluidprint. They’re second yoyo has a hollow hub, and it plays REALLY well. That decreased center density allows for a much bigger hub without all the center weight.